Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bored Baking.

Shortbread Squares.

I really have no idea what prompted it but last night around 11:30 I went downstairs to the kitchen and started pulling out butter, sugar, and flour and made this shortbread. It may have been the weather, it may have been my boredom, or knowing that I didn't have to be up early this morning. Whatever it was I'm glad I did it because this is my favourite shortbread recipe. Growing up my mom's favourite cookie was shortbread always, always. And really what's better than eating butter and sugar, combined with JUST enough flour to hold it all together and a pinch of salt? I love shortbread because it truly displays baking as more than just the sum of its parts.

Plus it happens to be the best accompaniment to coffee or tea. Or orange juice, or milk, or water...

Shortbread recipe adapted from "Tartine" by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson

Shortbread dough:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, VERY soft. (Should have the texture of mayonnaise when mixed in bowl)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons AP flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar or superfine sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 6x10-inch glass baking dish. (PS I used an 11x7 'cause I don't have a 6x10. Came out fine.)

Place the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the salt to the butter and mix well with a spoon or paddle attachment so that it dissolves completely before the other ingredients are added in.

Sift the flour and cornstarch together on a piece of wax paper or in a small bowl. Add the sugar to the butter mixture and beat until it's just combined. Then add in the flour mixture and stir until just a smooth dough forms.

Pat the dough evenly into the prepared baking dish. The dough should be fairly thin in the dish - no more than about 1/2 inch thick. Bake until the top is slightly golden, but the center is still light, about 30 minutes. Let cool until warm to the touch.

Sprinkle the sugar on top of the baked shortbread and shake the dish to coat the entire surface. With a paring knife, cut into desired pieces. Let cool completely and then remove the square or rectangles from the dish. The first is always the hardest to get out so obviously just eat that one yourself. This recipe says the cookies last for 2 weeks in an airtight container but mine are almost gone already. They are that good.

Shortbread Squares.

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